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Lawson brilliantly negotiates the legacies of vernacular, documentary, and conceptual photography to create indelible tableaux of Black colloquial life. While appearing to be images of actual families, friends, and lovers, her large-format works are in fact highly staged, cast, and choreographed, grounding their subjects in aesthetically rich material environments even as they gesture toward an ethereal elsewhere—a deft, remarkable feat. Throughout her oeuvre, Lawson employs a number of formal and conceptual strategies that we believe will occupy viewers and scholars for generations to come.
The work isn’t necessarily a documentary project about the individual. I’m trying to image the mythic realm, or use the person as a vehicle to represent an entity beyond what is present. In some ways, it’s more like a collaboration for a literary project.